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Adventure awaits on this family tour of western Canada. From exploring the surface of the Athabasca Glacier to whale watching off the coast of Victoria Island and meeting grizzlies at a bear sanctuary, there's an awe-inspiring experience at every turn. Whether we're canoeing or tree-top walking, drum making or totem pole spotting, there'll be no time for boredom. Each night, we'll make Canada's lush nature our temporary home, camping under the stars and roasting marshmallows over an open fire.
Explore Tour Leader
11 nights simple camping
2 nights comfortable hotel
8 - 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our Canadian family tour begins in Vancouver. Known as the Jewel of North America, and easily one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Canada, Vancouver eases us into the country's wonderous nature, backed by Mount Seymour and set on the Pacific Coast.
Due to the number of evening flights into Vancouver, our tour leader - who is also our driver for the duration of the tour - will meet you on the morning of day two. A message will be left in the hotel reception with timings and anything you might need for the following day. There are no activities planned today, so you're free to arrive into Vancouver at any time. If you'd like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Vancouver International Airport (YVC), which is a 40-minute drive from the hotel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, our hotel is centrally located in the downtown area and is the perfect base to explore some of the city's highlights. You might like to head to the enormous rainforest in Stanley Park or to see the Granville Island public market.
Century Plaza (or similar)
This morning, we'll explore Vancouver including visiting Granville Island and its public market, Chinatown, the Gastown area of the city and Stanley Park. We'll enjoy a picnic in one of Vancouver's parks that overlook the bay and catch the afternoon ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island where we'll camp on the outskirts of the city.
Although the island stretches almost 500 kilometres from north to south, it has a population of just 500,000 and, with its numerous provincial parks, it's easy to escape into the wilderness.
Cedar Springs Campsite (or similar)
Vancouver Island is one of the best places in the world to spot marine wildlife, being situated on the main migration route of several species of whale including Orca, Humpback, Grey Whales, and Minke. We'll board a catamaran for a whale-watching excursion around the surrounding islands. It may also be possible to spot Osprey, Bald Eagle, and other marine birds on our tour.
Upon returning to shore, we'll explore Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, including sites such as the Inner Harbour, Bastion Square, and the impressive Empress Hotel on the harbourfront. We'll finish our guided tour at Thunderbird Park, home to numerous totem poles that were carved by First Nation citizens, the original inhabitants of modern-day Canada.
The rest of the day is free for optional visits, including to the Royal British Columbia Museum or Butchart's Gardens which is world-renowned for its beauty.
We'll take the morning ferry back to the mainland and stop off at Capilano Suspension Bridge for a treetop adventure 70 metres above the Capilano River. Manoeuvre from one Douglas Fir tree to another on a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 30 metres above the forest floor.
Afterwards, we'll continue to Squamish, situated at the end of the Howe Sound and surrounded by mountains, arriving in time to enjoy an evening meal cooked by our tour leader.
MTN Fun Basecamp (or similar)
This morning, we'll visit the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre and learn about the indigenous people of the region who'll show us how to make a traditional mini drum.
In the afternoon, we'll drive northeast to the Hat Creek campground, in the grounds of a historic ranch built in the Gold Rush era.
Hat Creek Camping (or similar)
Today, we'll explore more of the historic Hat Creek site and indigenous village. Continuing towards Wells Gray Park, we'll make a stop at Spahats Creek Falls viewpoint and take in the scenery while we tuck into a picnic lunch in the park.
Upon arrival at Wells Gray, our local guide will give us a detailed introduction to paddling techniques and environmental ethics before we take to canoes for a three-hour journey to our wild camping spot.
Please note, for the next two nights, we'll go back to basics as we wild camp. There'll be no showers or running water.
Wells Gray Campground (or similar)
After a hearty breakfast, we'll head back out onto Clearwater Lake to further explore the waters. After an hour of canoeing, we'll reach Eagle's View, where we can take in the vistas over the lake. There's a beach where we'll stop with time to enjoy a dip in the lake.
Back at our camp, this afternoon we'll learn some bushcraft skills as we prepare a campfire and assist our guide in making our evening meal. We'll spend the evening roasting marshmallows on the campfire and stargazing.
This morning, we'll paddle back to the launch and swap our canoes for our bus. If time permits, we'll make another stop along the road to complete our Wells Gray Park exploration, visiting either Helmcken Falls or Bailey's Chute.
Heading northeast towards Mount Robson Provincial Park, we'll see Mount Robson itself which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3954 meters. It's so tall that it has its own weather patterns and if we're lucky we'll be able to view it from top to bottom.
From here, we'll enjoy a walk along Fraser Canyon to Overlander Falls (a one-kilometre round trip/45-minute walk) and then drive on to Jasper, our destination for today. Look out for black bears, elks, and eagles en route, many of which can usually be spotted from the road.
We'll set up camp for the next two nights in the National Park.
Whistlers Campground (or similar)
We'll dedicate today to Maligne Canyon. The canyon has a reputation for being one of the most spectacular gorges in the Canadian Rockies, with sheer, limestone walls that plunge 50 metres into the waters of the Maligne River. We'll take a short walk along the canyon passing by springs, waterfalls, bridges, and forests before visiting Maligne Lake, the largest lake in the Rockies.
After enjoying a picnic lunch near the lake, the afternoon sees us hiking along the Bald Hills Trail (around 13 kilometres/four-to-five hours of walking). There are several routes that we might take, and our leader will choose which one is best based on the makeup of the group. There are also opportunities to explore the lake by canoe or cruise boat (optional), before we drive back to Jasper through the Maligne Valley.
Today's drive takes us along the Icefield Parkway to Golden. The road negotiates its way through a landscape of coniferous forests, towering mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, and impressive glaciers. Possible scenic stops en route include Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, and Athabasca Falls.
Along the way, we'll hop on board the Ice Explorer, a vehicle designed especially for glacial travel, for an excursion across the surface of the Falls Glacier. In the afternoon, we'll continue our drive to Golden with wildlife spotting as we go, so be on the lookout for black bears, elks and eagles.
Tonight, we'll stay in Golden, a small town in the heart of the Columbia Valley.
Golden Riverfront Campground (or similar)
This morning, we'll head to the remarkable Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, the world's largest enclosed grizzly bear habitat. It offers us a unique opportunity to watch a grizzly behaving exactly as it would in the wild. After a short hike to the reserve, you'll have a chance to meet Boo, the refuge's very own orphan grizzly, and learn more about the life of these magnificent bears from one of the centre's resident naturalists.
Next, we head for Yoho National Park, to take a short walk up to Takkakaw Falls which is the second-highest waterfall in Canada. You can either relax at our campsite or stretch your legs on one of the nearby trails.
This morning, we'll drive for around three hours to Banff National Park - a landscape of mountains, meadows, and crystal-clear lakes. On our way, we'll stop for a walk around the postcard-perfect Lake Louise and Moraine Lake - the walk will be based on the groups' abilities with a choice of routes ranging from six kilometres (around two-and-a-half hours) to 14 kilometres (around five hours). You'll also have the option of renting a canoe and heading out on Lake Louise.
If time permits, we might have the chance to visit Banff on the way to our evening's campground for a bit of exploration.
Tunnel Mountain Village Campground (or similar)
This morning, we'll take a hike in Banff National Park, which is rich in wildlife with over 60 species of mammals and 280 species of birds being recorded here, including golden eagles, cougars, and black bears.
We'll then drive to Calgary and spend the afternoon exploring on foot. There's the option to climb Calgary Tower for a 360-degree panoramic view over the city, set against a backdrop of the Rockies.
Ramada Plaza Calgary Downtown (or similar)
Our Canadian family adventure ends at our hotel in Calgary.
There are no activities planned today, so you're free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you'd like an airport transfer, you need to depart from Calgary International Airport (YYC), around a 20-minute drive from the hotel.
May-Sep is the best time to visit, when the weather is usually warm, dry and pleasant. Temperatures can be a little cooler on the coast and in the mountains; rain can be expected at any time. Early in the season, there can be snow in some areas which may limit walking possibilities.
2 Pin Flat
Roman Catholic, Protestant
English and French
There are a number of exciting optional excursions you can do on your trip. These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract. Victoria - visit to Butchart Gardens CAD$ 35 / adult (CAD$ 18 for 13-17yr olds; CAD$ 4 for 12 yrs and under) Whistler- Gondola CAD$ 69; Rafting CAD$ 109 (CAD $ 65 for 6-16yr olds) (option of class 1 to 2; class 2 & 3; or class 3 & 4 rapids) Jasper - Bike rental from CAD$ 55 (for 5 hrs including helmet hire), Rafting trip CAD$ 69-102 (option of class 2 or class 3 rapids); Jasper Skytram $69; Canoe hire (Maligne Lake) CAD$63 for 1 hr; Maligne boat tour CAD$ 72 Athabasca Glacier - Ice walk CAD$ 110 (payable in cash only) Kicking Horse - Rafting CAD$126 (without barbecue) CAD$139 (with barbecue) (option of class 2 & 3; class 2 to 4; or class 4 rapids) Lake Louise - Canoe rental CAD$115 per half hour, CAD$126 per hour Banff - Gondola CAD$ 65; Canoeing on the Bow River CAD$ 45 (1hr) CAD$ 70 (2 hrs); Hot Springs CAD$ 7.30; Three Sisters Peaks Helicopter tour (15mins) CAD$ 129/adult (CAD$ 64.50 for upto 12yrs old); Royal Canadian Helicopter (25mins) tour CAD$ 259 (CAD$ 129.50 for upto 12yrs old); Mt. Assiniboine Helicopter tour (30mins) CAD$ 314 (CAD$ 157 for upto 12yrs old) Calgary - Climb on top of the Calgary Tower CAD$ 18 All optional excursion costs are subject to change at the discretion of the local supplier and are per person prices.
Include some loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts with tight-closing cuffs (insects). Warm clothing for cool nights beside water or at higher altitudes is essential as is a good waterproof jacket. Also bring swimwear, sunglasses and a sun hat.
Hiking boots are a must. Bring sandals or comfortable shoes for walking in the cities and at night at the camp.
A main luggage backpack, case or holdall plus a daypack for hikes and trips and for personal items carried with you inside the minibus. (Main luggage is stored in the closed trailer towed by the minibus). Bring plastic bags to keep things dry.
Bring a 3-season sleeping bag (see below), sleeping bag liner, a water bottle, biodegradable soap and shampoo, towel, sun block, and a small torch. Do not forget your camera. Binoculars are useful. Small flies and mosquitoes are part of the environment during forest evenings, so equip yourself with insect repellent. Please note: Sleeping bags can be provided locally. These must be reserved at the time of booking and paid directly to your Explore Leader on arrival at a cost of 50CAN$ per sleeping bag hired for the duration of the trip.
We'll spend most of our two-week Canadian adventure camping, bringing us even closer to the country's luscious wildlife. Aside from a couple of nights of wild camping, we'll stay at National Park and private campgrounds. You'll need to bring your own sleeping bags, but all other camping equipment is provided, including three-man tents (we usually allocate one tent per two people) and inflatable mats. Part of the fun will be mucking in to set up and break camp, as well as day-to-day tasks like meal prep, washing and loading and unloading the trailer. Campsite facilities typically include toilets, showers, and kitchen shelters where we'll have our meals, however, when we wild camp, basic facilities won't be available.
In rivers, lakes and natural hot springs
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Canada: (Including those in transit) Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia and passport holders from several EU countries can enter Canada with an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required when flying into Canada or transiting via Canada. For more information and to apply see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Please note you must also ensure you get an entry stamp when going through immigration on arrival. In most cases the border agents will provide this stamp automatically but if for any reason they do not provide one, please ensure you request one to ensure a smooth exit on departure. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.